Friday, May 4, 2012

Going Deeper in Discipleship

Our fast paced lifestyle is really not conducive to real life-on-life discipleship. I dislike that in our culture, discipleship can often feel so forced; that there are such things as “one on one” time or, scheduled coffee dates with mentors. Don't get me wrong, I have ALWAYS enjoyed these… but when I have begun to reflect on the efficiency and effectiveness, the authenticity and reality of discipleship in these contexts, it is becoming clear to me that more often than not these interactions feel stale and forced. Is this really "life on life"? Where's the spontaneity? Should there be any in discipleship? Or does discipleship mean "disciplined time" and "schedules"? There are a million books (okay maybe less) on question-asking, biblical counseling, solid relationship building techniques and for the most part they are helpful. I have really always functioned based on a schedule. In college especially, my sole focus was: effective time management. I was constantly trying to maximize my time in every place, circumstance, and interaction which meant that I was rarely “all there” in any one place, circumstance or interaction. My husband, when we dated, was quick to point this out, and now I am very grateful because it has indeed been for my betterment to see this tendency in myself. He has specifically helped me to see that slowing down, relaxing, and taking things one stride at a time is actually more beneficial. And throughout this process I have also come to realize that discipleship takes place one conversation at a time -- with intentionality and purpose.

I have been longing for and asking God for someone to disciple. I want to mentor a girl younger than myself, to counsel her and talk with her about her struggles as a teen or young woman navigating through this life trying to find who she is and what she was made to do. I have longed for a woman to do the same for me, and throughout the years I have had that, and I am thankful for those friendships, mentors, and women to look up to.
My mother, grandmother, Ann S., Melanie K., Mandy M., Erin H., and Sarah K. have all been women whom God has used to help me grow in this Chrstian life. But unfortunately, both due to my insecurity and a lack of desire to sacrifice time/energy [on the part of others] there has yet to be a woman in my immediate church context who comes alongside me and says, “I want to get in your life! I want to ask you hard questions! I want to disciple YOU!” Again, I have been thankful for the women that have graciously given of their time to let me ask them questions, advise me in matters too deep for me, and let me learn from their wisdom. Though, I see a lack in the church at large of women who aggressively, and intentionally seek out women younger themselves to actively disciple in this manner.

This is a tragedy in the local church! Jesus told his disciples (yes all of them were men, but look at Titus 2 ladies!) to “GO and make disciples… teaching them to observe all that I have commanded…I am with you always…” (Matt. 28:19-20). We can’t just wait around to have someone come and disciple us (I have learned that lesson) we must actively GO and be disciple-makers. If everyone were doing this, not only would you and I be discipled by someone else but we would be discipling others as well! What a sweet and joyous thought! Oh how we need God to grant us obedience in this area. It is a commandment and it is necessary. Yes, it takes self-sacrifice; yes it takes time and energy, effort and ability. But, whether you are a high schooler maturing in the faith, a college student learning zeal for Christ, a young wife practicing submission, a mother observing self-denial, or an aged, wise saint –we are ALL commanded to make disciples. We all have our unique experiences, testimonies, wisdom, and knowledge that we can lend to other generations (both below and above us). Let’s pray that God would give us each a woman (or maybe more than one) to disciple and teach for the glory of His name.

(Note: After writing this.. I think God has answered my prayer!)

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